Press Release
August 27, 2020

Homes first line of defense against COVID-19 -- Tolentino

Senator Francis "Tol" Tolentino underscored the immediate need to provide affordable homes to Filipinos, saying that homes serve as frontline defense against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

"Kapag sinabi po nating lockdown , stay at home, bahay po yung pinag-uusapan. Pag sinabi po nating quarantine, bahay po iyong pinag-uusapan," said Tolentino during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement, which he chairs, on Senate Bill No. 1174 and No. 203.

Underscoring this, Tolentino mentioned a UN report stating that "housing has become the frontline defense against coronavirus. Owning homes now are more of a life or death situation."

Tolentino emphasized that putting premium on housing sector-focused initiative will help prevent the spread of the virus

"Other countries have adopted specific measures to protect homeowners and mortgage holders as means to provide their citizens with a first line of defense against the virus," said Tolentino.

"So evictions, extensions of rental contracts, deferral of rental payments, these are really the buzz words for this pandemic," he added, emphasizing that these are among the priorities mentioned by President Duterte in State of the Nation Address (SONA).

In addition to addressing the woes of homeowners, the two measures filed by Tolentino (SBN 1774) and Sen. Bong Go (SBN 203) also seek to solve the country's housing backlog and provide a home for every Filipino family.

As of last count, Tolentino said there are around 1,037,865 informal-settler families, but the number could increase amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) Sec. Eduardo del Rosario told the joint hearing that the filing of the two measures was timely since their immediate passage would help close the housing gap, which is estimated to be at 6.57 million by 2022 and 22.61 million by 2040 if not addressed properly.

"The passage of the bills would not only fast track the implementation of various government projects but also help us plan ahead of time for future development," said del Rosario.

Tolentino's measure seeks to automatically appropriate funds for the government's housing agencies to ignite a large-scale housing program to address the housing backlog and provide a home for every Filipino family.

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